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Monday 18 February 2019

Mild winter has led to a spike in pneumonia cases

The mild weather has meant conditions in some sheds has left cattle extremely vulnerable to viral diseases such as pneumonia, which spreads rapidly in a warm, humid environment
The mild weather has meant conditions in some sheds has left cattle extremely vulnerable to viral diseases such as pneumonia, which spreads rapidly in a warm, humid environment

Eamon O'Connell

The mild weather of late has been wonderful to be out working in, but it has not been without its problems. We have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of pneumonia cases in the past few weeks. Viruses that cause pneumonia spread most rapidly in a warm and humid environment.

The lack of any wind and the mild weather meant that conditions in some sheds were primed for this to happen.

Sheds became very warm and stuffy due to a lack of air movement.

We saw a number of cases where a single animal with pneumonia turned into a large number of cases in a short few days. Sick animals were treated, swabs were taken and vaccination was carried out based on the results.

Mortality was low, but the loss of body condition, especially in cattle that were being fattened will be quite costly.

Lice have become a very prominent problem this winter. Lice love warm and humid weather so this has been their favourite winter for a long time. There are two types of lice - biting lice and sucking lice. There are a number of products available to treat lice.

Mastitis

Make sure they treat both types of lice and keep an eye on withdrawal periods, especially for milking cows. Also, treat all animals in the shed. If some aren't treated, then lice will spread quickly through the shed again.

Mastitis has been seen more frequently this winter, especially in winter milking herds or in herds where late calving cows were milked on over Christmas.

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Cubicle beds became damp quite quickly and, combined with the higher than normal temperatures, an ideal environment is created for bacteria. Cleaning cubicles twice daily and dressing with lime will greatly help to limit cases of mastitis.

There has been an increased incidence of coughing from lungworm in the past few weeks. Pastures were grazed very late, especially by younger, lighter cattle. Worm dosing protocols have varied a lot this year, which has led to some animals going long periods without a treatment for parasites. If in doubt, have a quick chat with your vet.

A few faecal samples will give a good indication of what course of action is needed.

We have also noticed some younger cattle developing scour at grass in the last few weeks.

When parasites are deemed to be not the problem, it is often a lack of fibre that causes the scour. Simply adding fibre to the diet in the form of hay or silage has solved the problem. This has been the case, particularly where forage crops are grazed without an added source of fibre.

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